New Orleans Saints: Harper to Linebacker, CB Richard Marshall in free agency

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San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) breaks a tackle from New Orleans Saints strong safety Roman Harper (41). Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESS WIRE

Safety Roman Harper has more than carried his share of the load on defense since being drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2006, and he was rewarded with a lucrative contract following last season.

While Harper is always leading the team in tackles, quarterback sacks (7.5 sacks 2011), he’s near the bottom in passes defended.

Not to dredge up old bad memories, but over the last two seasons Saints opponents have made major pass plays against Harper during the playoff’s and have been very successful doing it.

Last years game clutching  catch by 49er’s tight end Vernon Davis was not totally Harper’s fault as defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called on a blitz leaving him to fend for himself in the secondary.

However Harper was beaten badly by Davis most of the day, not to mention he was literately eaten alive by the 7-9  Seattle Seahawks offense time after time in the wildcard playoff game in 2010.

Now that a lot of teams are playing two tight ends in their base offensive packages, Harper will be thrown at more than ever and the results are now very predictable.

Hopefully new defensive coordinator Steve Spagunolo will consider moving Harper to linebacker, putting him in a position where he is already strong against the run, but also will shrink the field for him on pass coverages, where chances are he will be a better play maker at linebacker than safety.

Don’t get me wrong, Harper is a very valuable asset for the Saints on defense, but at 6′ 1″ 200 lbs he could be more valuable at linebacker than at safety.

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